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L             THE GOLDEN AGE OF ISLAM          71
same dome, and round the tombs has sprung up the city
of ^ Meshed. As I write these lines, I am sitting in the
British Consulate-General, little more than one thousand
yards from Haroun-al-Rashid's grave.
Amin and Mamun, A..K. 193-198 (808-813).—Haroun,
like Cyrus the Great, made the fatal mistake of dividing
the Empire: Amin, the son of Zobayda, was nominated
heir-apparent during his father's lifetime, and Abdulla,
surnamed Mamun, or "The Trusted," son of a Persian
wife, was declared to be the next successor and was given
the government of the Caliphate east of Hamadan, just as
Bardiya, the brother of Cambyses, was appointed ruler of
the Eastern provinces of the Empire of the Achaemenians.
In anticipation of the death of Haroun, the heir-apparent
had despatched an agent with the army to Khorasan. On
the demise of the Caliph the agent produced two letters
sealed by Amin. By the terms of the first, Mamun was
instructed to have the oath of allegiance sworn to both
brothers (Amin and Mamun), but by the terms of the
second the army, which had been bequeathed to Mamun,
was ordered to return to Baghdad; this order was
promptly executed as the families of the soldiers were
in the power of Amin.
Mamun fro claimed Caliph of the East, A.H. 196 (811).—
The brothers consequently started on bad terms, and
Mamun, under the guidance of Fazl ibn Sahl, a recent
Persian convert to Islam, strengthened his position in
Khorasan, where his Persian blood gave rise to the saying3
" Son of our Sister, he is one of ourselves and an Abbasid
to boot" His able general, Harthama, captured Samarcand,
Rafi submitted, and Mamun felt strong enough to declare
himself Caliph of the East. Amin, on the other hand,
was a weak voluptuary who lavished the revenues of the
Caliphate on unworthy pleasures. But he was popular in
Baghdad, where he spent huge sums of money, and where
Mamun was disliked for his Persian proclivities.
The Campaigns of Tahir the Ambidextrous and the
Death of Amin,—Under a court ruled by eunuchs and
mistresses the army degenerated, and Amin's attempts to
attack his brother were uniformly unsuccessful. A force